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Videos of 'Kabul Express' available despite ban
10th Jan 2007 09.00 IST
Videos of Bollywood film Kabul Express are easily available in the black market in Kabul despite a ban slapped on it by Afghan authorities, with the price of its copies registering an increase in the past few days.
Four days after the Afghan government banned the John Abraham – Arshad Warsi starrer’s screening in the country due to fears that certain derogatory remarks in it about Shia Hazaras might offend the minority community, the rental rate for ‘Kabul Express’ has shot up to 30 Afghanis as against 10 Aghanis for other films in the local market.
The price of a DVD of the film has jumped from 50 Afghanis (one dollar) to 100 Afghanis, but people said getting hold of copies was no problem.
Many who have seen director Kabir Khan 's film after the ban said that when it was easy to grow and buy opium in the country, it was "ludicrous" to believe that the sale of a film can be stopped.
Some also pointed out the official curb on public screenings is meaningless as Afghanistan does not have many cinemas and as the film is yet to be released in the country.
The Hazaras, who form only about 15 per cent of the population, are generally poor, and have traditionally suffered social discrimination. The ban helped to take the sting out of fiery speeches condemning the film and seeking its ban that were made at a meeting at Khatimulanbiah mosque in Dashtbarchi locality in Kabul, where many Hazaras live.
Slogans of ‘murdabad’ were shouted against popular Afghan star Hanif Hum Ghum, who has a prominent role in ‘Kabul Express’. The actor was not available for comments and appeared to have gone underground.
Two other Afghan actors, who had smaller roles in the film, have stoutly defended it in an interview to the popular Dari daily Arman-e-Milli.
Abdul Bashir Mujahid told the newspaper it was possible that extra text was inserted in pirated versions of the movie that are available in the market, and it was possible that an organisation like Pakistan's ISI might be behind this with the object of souring Afghan-India ties. He said he could not recall any offending dialogue in the original script.
The other actor, Shafeeq Humdum, said some elements were bent on provoking the Hazaras and asked politicians not to react in an extreme manner without seeing the film.
Several Hazara and non-Hazara Shia social and political leaders attended the meeting at Khatimulanbiah mosque. Among them were the country's second vice-president Karim Khalili and prominent MP and one-time minister Saeed Mohammed Mohaqiq (both former feared Hazara warlords), as well as Sima Samar, the head of the human rights commission and also a former minister.
In a weekly briefing on Monday, the spokesman for the council of ministers too raised the issue of ‘Kabul Express’ and said the government planned to take the film to court.
When asked by reporters how the government could take such a step if there was a fake copy of the movie circulating in the market, the spokesman went on the back foot and said the authorities would first investigate the matter.
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